COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Danish zoo on Wednesday defended its decision to kill two aging lions and two cubs, citing the risk of inbreeding and the arrival of a new male.
This week's cull has put the Copenhagen Zoo on the defensive again, a month after it infuriated animal-welfare activists by killing a healthy giraffe, dissecting it in public and feeding it to the lions.
In a statement, the zoo said it had to put down the lions to make room for the new, nearly 3-year-old male, saying it wouldn't have been accepted by the pride if the older male, aged 16, were still around.
"Furthermore we couldn't risk that the male lion mated with the old female as she was too old to be mated with again due to the fact that she would have difficulties with birth and parental care of another litter," the zoo said.
The cubs were also put down because they were not old enough to fend for themselves and would have been killed by the new male lion anyway, officials said.
Zoo officials hope the new male and two females born in 2012 will form the nucleus of a new pride.